Like Beyoncé, North Carolina’s Grammy nominees didn’t come through in what seemed to be the likely categories. But also like Queen Bey, they didn’t come away entirely empty-handed from Sunday night’s ceremonies.
Out of 14 total nominations, acts with ties to North Carolina took home the Grammy in two categories.
One was the recently transplanted O’Connor Band, the family group led by multi-talented fiddler Mark O’Connor, who moved to the greater Charlotte area last year. O’Connor Band’s “Coming Home” won for best bluegrass album, beating a field including Doyle Lawson, Blue Highway and Claire Lynch.
North Carolina’s other winner was Asheville-based “kid-hop” artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, whose “Infinity Plus One” scored for best children’s album.
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Four of North Carolina’s other Grammy contenders picked up nominations in multiple categories, but fell short of winning.
Three of them were nominated against each other in various roots, folk and Americana categories – Greensboro native Rhiannon Giddens, Concord’s Avett Brothers and one-time Creedmoor resident Robbie Fulks – only to lose out to Texas multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz, a surprise two-time winner for American roots performance and folk album.
Giddens was up for both those categories. The Avetts were nominated in American roots performance as well as Americana album, losing the latter category to soul man William Bell. And Fulks was up for American roots song (won by Vince Gill) and folk album.
As for North Carolina’s other twice-nominated act, iconic local gospel star Shirley Caesar, she was up for gospel album and gospel performance/song. But crossover star Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann won instead.
Durham’s Branford Marsalis was nominated alongside Kurt Elling for jazz vocal album. Gregory Porter won that category.
High Point native and 2004 “American Idol” Fantasia came up empty in traditional R&B performance, won by Lalah Hathaway.
David Bowie’s “Blackstar” album won a total of five Grammys, including alternative album. That added up to a shutout for Triangle expatriate Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver.
Former Duke student Mike Posner was the longest of long shots for song of the year. The only surprise there was who he lost to, Adele rather than Beyoncé – who was expected to win album/song/record of the year but had to settle for urban contemporary album and video.